Going Gluten-FreeOctober 30, 2013

CDC Issues Food Allergy Guidelines for Schools

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Posted by Alicia Woodward

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control released voluntary guidelines for managing food allergies in schools across the nation. CDC’s guidelines effectively shift the focus in schools from one of response to the preparation for and prevention of allergic reactions.

With almost 6 million food-allergic children in the United States, the guidelines address a critical need. A recent CDC survey estimated that about 1 in 20 U.S. kids has a food allergy, a 50 percent increase from the late 1990s. (The reason for the hike in prevalence remains unknown.) Over 15 percent of children with food allergies will have a reaction at school. A recent study found that about 25 percent of epinephrine administrations in the school setting involve people whose allergy was previously undiagnosed.

Calling for strong leadership in schools and early care and education programs across the nation, the guidelines encourage schools to first identify children with food allergies and then have a definite plan to prevent exposures and manage any reactions. The guidelines include recommendations for training teachers and others in the school how to use medicine like epinephrine auto-injectors.  

The guidelines offer logistical advice, such as planning parties or field trips free of foods that might cause a reaction, designating someone to carry epinephrine and making sure classroom activities are inclusive.

CDC’s stated goal is to help schools reduce allergic reactions, improve schools’ responses to life-threatening reactions and ensure that current policies are in line with laws that protect children with serious health issues.

To access CDC’s new guidelines and FAQs, go to http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/foodallergies/.

For free training modules consistent with CDC’s guidelines that schools can use to educate staff and others, go to allergyhome.org/schools.

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